When I was a kid, nut butter meant peanut butter, plain and simple. But really, it's surprising that it took so long for the country at large to embrace other forms of ground nuts given that they're all just different iterations of AWESOME.
One that's really done well in the past few years is almond butter. Manufacturers may start with raw or roasted almonds; some add salt and there are the traditional crunchy or smooth varieties. Find the butter that you like the best, though I'd check the label to avoid those with oil, sugar, or any other unnecessary add-ins.
What's the deal with using it in sweets?
The general view is that you can use almond butter as a one to one replacement in recipes that call for peanut butter. I find that almond butter tends to be a little thinner in consistency (especially verses PB brands like Jif and Skippy), so if you're making a dough, be aware that an extra tablespoon of flour may be needed. Also, while a peanut butter treat usually screams peanuts, the flavor of almond butter is a little more mellow.
If you're looking for a way to use up some of that leftover almond butter, or you've been enjoying it plain but want to put it to work in the kitchen, here are some ideas to get you started.
Salty Mixed Nut Cookies
These cookies use a mixture of crunchy peanut and almond butters to get a rounded flavor and lots of great texture. A generous dose of sea salt gives them an addictive salty-sweet flavor.
Quick Ginger-Almond Cake
This versatile cake recipe is just as comfortable at afternoon tea as it is following your mom's famous roast beef. It's moist and fulfilling with a tender crumb, and the almond flavor is perked up by the warming notes of ginger. Bonus: it keeps well for up to four days in an airtight container.
No-Bake Chewy Cranberry Chocolate Treats
While you could use peanut butter in these addictively crispy, chewy treats, almond butter adds flavor without dominating everything else. Almonds also better harmonize with honey and cranberries, the two main sweeteners.
Almond Butter Bostock
Bostock is a traditional French recipe which transforms day-old brioche into a nutty breakfast treat that is kind of like an eggless French toast. With three almond products (butter, extract, and nuts), it's got a strong almond flavor—one that pairs really well with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios